Happy birthday, Joni Mitchell! The iconic singer/songwriter turns 74 today (November 7, 2017), and we’re taking a moment to celebrate at her incredible career. I recently reread Zadie Smith’s 2012 essay on becoming a Joni Mitchell fan, “Some Notes On Attunement,” and her description of listening to Mitchell seems pretty perfect:
This is the effect that listening to Joni Mitchell has on me these days: uncontrollable tears. An emotional overcoming, disconcertingly distant from happiness, more like joy—if joy is the recognition of an almost intolerable beauty. It’s not a very civilized emotion. I can’t listen to Joni Mitchell in a room with other people, or on an iPod, walking the streets. Too risky. I can never guarantee that I’m going to be able to get through the song without being made transparent—to anybody and everything, to the whole world. A mortifying sense of porousness. Although it’s comforting to learn that the feeling I have listening to these songs is the same feeling the artist had while creating them: “At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes.” That’s Mitchell, speaking of the fruitful years between Ginsberg at the abbey and 1971, when her classic album “Blue” was released.
Take a look at some photos of quotes and join us in celebrating Joni Mitchell’s birthday.
Keep a good heart. That's the most important thing in life. It's not how much money you make or what you can acquire. The art of it is to keep a good heart. (source)
The most important thing is to write in your own blood. I bare intimate feelings because people should know how other people feel. (source)
In some ways, my gift for music and writing was born out of tragedy, really, and loss. (source)
All my battles were with male egos. I’m just looking for equality, not to dominate. But I want to be able to control my vision. (source)
I don't like being too looked up at or too looked down on. I prefer meeting in the middle to being worshipped or spat out. (source)
I have an aversion to being mislabeled. Here’s a label I’d accept: I’m an individual. I’m someone who can’t follow, and doesn’t want to lead. (source)
I see music as fluid architecture. (source)
Freedom to me is a luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart, to keep the magic in your life. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create, and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive. (source)
There's been a tremendous amount of growth. An actress is not expected to continue to play her ingenue roles, you know, I've written myself roles to grow into gracefully, but there is no growing into gracefully in the pop world. Basically the reason I'm so unruly in this business is because I never wanted to be a human jukebox. (source)
That's one thing that's always, like, been a difference between, like, the performing arts, and being a painter, you know. A painter does a painting, and he paints it, and that's it, you know. He has the joy of creating it, it hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, and maybe somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he never, you know, nobody ever, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Paint a Starry Night again, man!' You know? He painted it and that was it. (source)
Top photo: Joni Mitchell in 1970, photo by Henry Diltz (source)
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